Toyota i-ROAD Concept Unveiled in Geneva - The Future?

At the 2014 Geneva Auto Show, Toyota unveiled what it calls the i-ROAD. It is a three-wheeled, electric-powered vehicle that could be the future of transportation.

Toyota i-ROAD Concept Unveiled in Geneva - Turning

Using an innovative Active Lean system, the i-ROAD computer uses actuators to help turn.

The concept is Toyota’s response to heavier and expensive EV vehicles that aren’t any better at moving through cities. This three-wheeled concept can zip through busy streets and help relieve congestion thanks to its size. Officially, Toyota calls it a “personal mobility vehicle.”

Toyota i-ROAD Concept Unveiled in Geneva - Profile

The i-ROAD concept small size makes it easy to negotiate traffic.

Toyota’s i-ROAD is just 33.5 inches wide, 56.9 inches high and 92.5 inches long. Those dimensions make it half the width of a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive and Toyota says the i-ROAD is no wider than a two-wheeler.

Toyota i-ROAD Concept Unveiled in Geneva - Interior

The interior of the i-ROAD concept. You can see how the driver and passenger sit in tandem.

It is capable of transporting two passengers that sit in tandem and it protects these occupants from the weather using a fully enclosed body. Toyota says that because it is fully enclosed, no helmet is required.

The real innovation of this concept is in the i-ROAD’s self-righting front-wheel Active Lean technology. This system uses a geared actuator affixed to each of the front wheel’s suspension wheels. Car and Driver explains how it works:

A computer manages the degree of lean of each front wheel—as the angle of lean of one wheel increases, the other lowers by the same amount—using steering angle, a gyroscope, and vehicle speed to induce lean in corners or keep the i-ROAD steady at low speeds. The system also can filter out potentially balance-upsetting road imperfections when traveling in a straight line. The i-ROAD is steered using a squircle-shaped steering wheel rather than a set of handlebars.

What’s also interesting is that the i-ROAD is the front-wheel drive setup. Each front wheel features a 2.7-hp in hub electric motor powered by a shared lithium-ion battery. Toyota claims this setup allows it to have a driving range of 30 miles and it needs three hours to recharge using conventional domestic power supplies.

While this concept is a long-shot for production, the ideas developed from building these vehicles can be used in the future. Whether it gets built or not, we know one thing for sure. We WANT a ride!

Written by Tim Esterdahl